A Peek at One of My Favorite Halloween Books

Posted October 14, 2021 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Holiday Books

Tags: , , ,

Halloween is slowly creeping into my house. Everywhere I look, witches, ghosts, spiders, skeletons, and pumpkins are finding haunted places to reside. I found the little pumpkin below peeking into one of my favorite Halloween books. Now how did that get there?

Trick or Eeek! is is an excellent choice for a Halloween read. It’s filled with “spine-tickling,” spooky riddles. Delightful illustrations combined with lift-the-flap riddle answers will keep readers turning the pages and howling with laughter.

Trick or Eeek! written by Katy Hall and Lisa Eisenberg and illustrated by R.W. Alley, Harper Festival, 1996

Here’s a riddle of my own.

What did the ghost say to Mr. Rogers on Halloween?

It’s a boo-tiful day in the neighborhood!

Do you have a riddle to share?

Tune in next week for more of my favorite Halloween books.

My Favorite September Picture Book Choices

Posted October 7, 2021 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Picture Book Review, Picture Books

Tags: , , , ,

Below are some of the books I read during the month of September that piqued my interest.

Beatrice Was a Tree written and illustrated by Joyce Hesselberth, Greenwillow Books, 2021

Not wanting to go to bed, Beatrice stays outside. She imagines herself to be a tree that changes during the four seasons. She stretches her branches, feels the warmth of the sun, provides homes for animals, sheds her leaves, and, after a snowy winter, she blossoms once again. The magic of imagination is broken when Mom calls, “Beatrice, Bed! Now!” This book is filled with whimsical illustrations and lyrical text that will delight readers who appreciate nature. 

Mel Fell written and illustrated by Corey R. Tabor, Balzer + Bray, 2021

I love this book because of its unique format. It’s not your usual book as you follow Mel who wants to learn to fly. But before she flies…”Mel fell.” Readers follow Mel as she falls down, down, down past the critters in the tree who try to help her. Mel and the book take a turn (literally) as she plunges into the water. Make sure you follow the directions on how to turn the book to find out if Mel ever learns to fly. This book is sure to entertain readers!

Are You a Cheeseburger? written and illustrated by Monica Arnaldo, Katherine Tegen Books, 2021

Grub, a raccoon, and Seed, a seed, meet in a garbage can. Grub is convinced if Seed grows, cheeseburgers will blossom. Grub plants Seed and the two spend every night talking to each other and describing what is going on above ground and below ground. When Seed finally sprouts, they celebrate. Grub makes sure to water Seed every day as he longs for the promise of delicious cheeseburgers that will soon appear. But when Seed blossoms as a flower – not a cheeseburger plant – Grub is quiet. What is he thinking? You’ll have to read the book to find out. I love the uniqueness of this delicious book and the unusual friendship that evolves.

Mucky Truck written by Ammi-Joan Paquette and illustrated by Elisa Ferro, Henry Holt and Co., 2021

Kids will love this rollicking story about a little truck, a crane, a digger, and a forklift that get stuck in the muck until the firetruck comes to get them out. Onomatopoeia and rhymes will keep kids engaged along with an unexpected messy ending.

The Rice in the Pot Goes Round and Round written by Wendy Wan-Long Shang and illustrated by Lorian Tu, Orchard Books, 2021

This is a delightful story of a Chinese family coming together to prepare for their evening dinner. Readers will have fun joining in with the rhythmic text that goes along with the familiar song, “The Wheels on the Bus.” 

The Longest Storm written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino, mineditionUS, 2021

Stuck in their house with no place to go, a single father and his children slowly learn how to reconnect with one another to become a supportive family unit once again. A definite must-read!

Norman Didn’t Do it! written and illustrated by Ryan T. Higgins, Disney-Hyperion, 2021

A humorous picture book about learning to share your best friend with others and accepting new friends.

Bright Star written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales, Neal Porter Books, 2021

A beautifully illustrated book about love, honor, and respect.

If any of these books are of interest to you and your family, make sure to check them out and enjoy!

Little Free Libraries

Posted September 30, 2021 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Libraries

Tags: , ,

I love going to the library. It’s a place of comfort. A place where anything can happen. All you have to do is reach for a book, open it, and begin reading. Magic happens! When I was young, I spent many happy hours at our town library, searching for the just-right book. A library is a place where you can find hidden treasures.

I love books – especially children’s books. (After all, I’m a former elementary school teacher and school librarian, and I’m a children’s author.) Fiction and nonfiction picture books, middle-grade and young adult books are my books of choice. I not only read books but I collect them. When books started piling up on the floor of my office, I realized I had too many. There is no way I would ever want to get rid of all of them. My granddaughters would never forgive me. But there are some I’m willing to give up.

Enter The Little Free Library. I first started seeing these cute little structures that house books around Madison, WI. I’ve been fascinated by them ever since. They are popping up in neighborhoods across the country. TAKE A BOOK. LEAVE A BOOK. It’s also a perfect way to share books and bring joy to others.

Taking photos of these Little Free Libraries has become a hobby of mine. Whenever or wherever I see one, I snap a photo. Below are some of my favorites.

Maybe it’s time to invest in a Little Free Library of my own.

Here is a wonderful book that tells the story of Todd Bol and his movement to promote books and literacy through Little Free Libraries.

Little Libraries, Big Heroes written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by John Parra, Clarion Books, 2019

A Perfect Pick!

Posted September 23, 2021 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Laughter, Life

Tags: ,

On Tuesday, my husband and I picked a peck of apple-icious apples!

Pick a Peck

Each picked apple conjured up tasty treats – apple sauce, apple crunch, apple pie, apple cake, apple donuts, apple cider, apple butter…

It was a beautiful day at Sunnycrest Apple Farm and Farmer’s Market.

Apples, and Mums, and Pumpkins, – Oh, my!

There was no need to mask up. We had wide-open spaces to roam up and down rows of apple trees.

Walkin’ Down the Apple Highway

There were no crowds, but the branches were jam-packed with apples.

Apples Galore

After picking our pick of apples, we splurged and bought ourselves a special treat.

Yum!

It was a great day to be out in the fresh air and sunshine. Now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Apple anyone?

Remember. An apple a day keeps the doctor away!

Pick one of these apple books.

How to Grow an Apple written by Beth Charles and illustrated by Katie Rewse, Albert Whitman & Company, 2020

Let’s Go Apple Picking written by Lori Haskins Houran and illustrated by Nila Aye, Golden Books, 2020.

Applesauce Day written by Lisa J. Amstutz and illustrated by Talitha Shipman, Albert Whitman & Company, 2017

Apple Picking Day! written by Candice Ransom and illustrated by Erika Meza, Random House Books for Young Readers, 2016

A Wish

Posted September 16, 2021 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Life

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

 ~Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

September 11th is my birthday. On that day, twenty years ago, I was teaching in an elementary school near Boston. As a gift to me, I asked my husband to postpone his business trip so we could celebrate together. He did. (He was not booked on United Airlines Flight 175.)  By the end of that September 11th day, there was nothing to celebrate.

I was in class when the news of the terrorist attacks passed quietly through the halls as school administrators whispered to teachers what had happened. There were parents in our school community who flew out of Boston to various places to do business. It was imperative that students need not know what was going on before their parents could explain the situation to their children on their own terms.

It was a sad day – a scary day. “It was the worst of times. It was the season of darkness.”

The downside of the horrible terrorist attacks was the many people who perished and the first responders who have health complications today from desperately trying to save lives. The upside is that suddenly Americans, no matter what religious, ethnic, or diverse background, came together. We flew the American flag – a symbol of liberty, justice, and freedom, and we embraced each other to become a strong, resilient America.

It’s now twenty years later. Our nation is more dived than I’ve ever seen.

This year, my September 11th birthday wish is that we end our political divide. Stop the craziness on both sides. Listen and respect other’s opinions. Work to unite rather than divide. I wish this to be our “season of light” and “spring of hope.”

God Bless America

A Nation’s Strength

What makes a nation’s pillars high
And its foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?

It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.

Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.

And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.

Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor’s sake
Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly…
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.
~Emerson

I’m Back!

Posted September 9, 2021 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Family Celebrations, Laughter, Life

Tags: , , , , ,

It has been a busy six weeks. We celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, and family gatherings. Here are some high points.

Anniversary Flowers
Birthday Cake
Another Birthday Cake
And Another Birthday Cake
Three-Legged Birthday Games
Birthday Wishes
T-Ball Fun
Roasting Marshmallows
Cornhole!

We have lots of memories of days spent with family and friends. Now it’s time to get back to business, and…

.First Day of School

that includes the little ones, too.

Until next Thursday, enjoy each and every day!

Summer Blog Break

Posted August 5, 2021 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Uncategorized

It’s that time of year!

I interrupt this blog for breaking news. “Humor Me” is taking a summer blog break to relax and celebrate August birthdays and anniversaries. Look for the next post on September 9th when this blog returns to inform and entertain the masses!

Summer Blog Break

Keep on reading!

Family Matters

Posted July 29, 2021 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Life, Special Days

Tags: , , , ,

A baptism last week. A wedding this week.

Last Friday, we headed to the Midwest. We haven’t traveled on an airplane in over two years because of COVID-19, but when a family wedding celebration is on the horizon, we go! Our destination was not an easy place to get to. We drove our car to the park ‘n ride to catch a bus that took us to the airport. We boarded a plane for a two-and-a-half-hour flight. We then boarded a regional plane for another hour’s flight. Arriving at the small airport, we picked up our rental car and drove another hour and a half to our destination. In all, it took us thirteen hours. We missed the rehearsal dinner, but the Midwest heat and humidity were there to greet us!

Saturday – Wedding Day

The Bride – Our Niece

Parents of the Bride – A Nervous Dad

The Bride and Groom

Father/Daughter Dance

We didn’t get a family photo of my brother and two sisters, but we did play cornhole at the reception. What else do you do in corn country? (Notice the determination on my face.) I lost to a five-year-old!

Me!

Sunday morning, we did a reversal of our Friday travel schedule. I was immediately reminded why flying is not my favorite pastime. Besides delays, cancellations, and turbulence, other problems creep up. On our first flight, all I wanted was a cold glass of ice water. Problem One:  No ice available. Problem Two:  They ran out of water before they got to us! Really?? The second flight had a mechanical glitch that had to be fixed. And so, we waited until it was a go. Twelve and a half hours later, we finally reached home. Even though it was a short visit and there were a few minor problems with our flights, it was wonderful to be able to get together with our family and enjoy a day of celebration! Family matters!

Love Is…

Posted July 22, 2021 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Special Days

Tags: , , , , , ,

This past weekend our youngest grandchild was baptized. He wore a 140-year-old family baptismal gown. I’m sure our Irish relatives were looking down from heaven with happiness and pride.

Including our daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren, there were thirteen people under one roof for the weekend. Six of those were children – ages five and younger. On Sunday, more people arrived for the baptismal celebration. It was a happy day with a bit of chaos sprinkled in. During all of the goings-on, these two found a quiet space to share a book.

Love is faith, family, and friends!

Winner to the Giveaway and Shark Week!

Posted July 15, 2021 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Nonfiction Picture Books, Picture Books

Tags: , ,

The winner of Janie Reinart’s beautiful book, When Water Makes Mud:  A Story of Refugee Children is…

Janet Celek!

Congratulations, Janet!

It’s Shark Week!

Chomp! Sink your teeth into these books!

Sharks for Kids by David McGuire, Rockridge Press, 2020

So Cool! Sharks by Crispin Boyer, National Geographic Kids, 2019

The Ultimate Book of Sharks by Brian Skerry, National Geographic for Kids, 2018

Sharks: Teeth to Tail written by Jaye Garnett and illustrated by Beatrice Tinarelli, Cottage Door Press, 2021

Shark Lady written by Jess Keating and illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns, Sourcebooks Explore, 2017


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